Tampa Bay Golf Championship expected to boost local economy

Officials expecting record crowds this year

PALM HARBOR, Fla. - The signs are going up at the Innisbrook Resort, marking the last minutes touches to the Copperhead Golf Course.   

The Tampa Bay Golf Championship starts next week in Palm Harbor and it is expected to draw record crowds this year. Local businesses are also looking to score big from the event.

Jay Vessey, with Evolution Studios and Media, has been helping the tournament advertise for 10 years. He always looks forward to the event because his workers reap the benefits. Vessey said, "We're a small to medium sized advertising agency, 18 to 20 employees, and it makes it possible for three or four employees a year to continue to work on different projects."

Last year, more than 80,000 people from from 44 states came to watch the tournament. Organizers say the Tampa Bay area benefits from the crowds. Kevin Krisle, tournament director, said, "A PGA Tour event delivers tens of millions of dollars. That's just the week of the tournament. In addition, especially for us here in Tampa Bay, where you can golf 51 weeks out of the year. Golfers are known to be a traveling demographic."

The event is on the marquee of the Hampton Inn & Suites in Tarpon Springs, which is completely booked for the week of the tournament. The hotel sees a 20% boost during tourney time.

Robert Kareska, hotel GM, said, "We have several guests that come in every year for the tournament from all over the country. We have a lot of the back of the house people that come in and stay with us for more than just the four days of the tournament."

More than 12,000 volunteers will work the event. The first round kicks off Thursday and runs through the weekend.

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